When someone is arrested, when do they see a judge?
You have up to 72 hours before the court is required to present the charges/accusations against you. This is called an arrangement and is usually done within 48 hours. Some counties set arraignment for the next morning. It depends on availability of the court. This timeline does not include weekends or holidays. For example, if you are taken into custody on a Friday, it may be until Wednesday before you are arraigned.
How is the bail amount set?
Jails determine bail according to a bail schedule. Each crime (excluding capitol, and "OR" offenses) has a bail amount associated with it. These amounts are usually determined by the judges in the county the offense was committed and may vary from county to county.
Do people get released or their bail reduced during an arraignment?
An arraignment is a court appearance in which the defendant is formally charged with a crime and asked to respond by pleading guilty, not guilty, or nolo contendere. Other matters often handled at the arraignment are arranging for the appointment of a lawyer to represent the defendant. The bail amount is usually already set in accordance to the bail schedule and is usually not done during arraignment. Issues regarding bail can be heard during the arraignment or during the preliminary hearing (a.k.a. probable cause hearing). The defense attorney can also schedule a bail hearing in order to get the bail reduced. Sometimes the bail amount will be reduced due to the District Attorney not filing formal charges on some of the offenses someone was arrested for. Please note that the judge has the authority/discretion to release a defendant without bail (OR/own recognizance/promise to appear). Lower, raise or revoke the bail at anytime during the case.
What is a bail agent (bail bondsman)?
A bail agent is any person or corporation which will act as a surety (insurance) and provide pledge money (on the defendants behalf) as bail for the appearance of a criminal defendant in court.
What is a bail bond?
A bail bond (power of attorney) is essentially a check the bail agent provides to the court on behalf of the defendant in order to gain there release. This is a monetary guarantee to the court that the defendant will show up to court until the case is concluded. Once the case is concluded, then the bond is exonerated (voided).
Can I post bail for someone?
Yes. You can do what is called a property bond with the court. The court/county will appraise the property, which has to be worth three times the bail amount. A lien/DOT (deed of trust) is put on the property and the defendant is released. This is not a common method because the process can take days to weeks. The property cannot be refinanced or sold while the lien is in effect (case is pending).
How much does it cost to bail someone out?
The state of California regulates the amount bail companies must charge and is across the board. That amount is 10% of the bail amount, and as state law, it is not negotiable. This is called the premium. The premium is non-refundable and is the amount the agent charges to transact bail. That does not mean that the bail agent is prohibited from providing a payment plan. SOME sureties (bail agents or insurance companies the bail company represents) have received permission to charge an 8% premium for bail done under certain conditions. For example, JM Bail Bonds can offer an 8% premium for defendants that are either themselves, or their indemnator is one of the following: a government/county/city employee, military, a private attorney representing the defendant, or a union member.
Can a bail company take other forms of payment like trade for the premium?
Absolutely not. It is illegal, not to mention unethical, for a bail agent to trade anything for bail (i.e. sex, drugs, personal items). Bail agents have been arrested and stripped of their licenses for doing this. The California department of insurance and the surety (insurance company) do annual audits of transactions performed by bail agents. Doing bail this way could not only put the agent at risk of criminal charges but put your bail (freedom) at risk.
What is collateral?
Collateral is something the bail company may require in order to secure the release of a defendant to help insure the bail agent that the defendant will appear in court. This is usually done in cases that the defendant poses a significant flight risk or the bail amount is unusually high. There are different forms of collateral including property and cash. All collateral is returned once the bond is exonerated (the case is concluded).
Can the bail agent put me back into jail?
The bail agent or company who posted you bond can revoke the bond and surrender the defendant into custody for any reason. This power of arrest over a defendant out on bond is exercised differently depending on who posted your bond. It is most commonly done when a defendant FTAs/skips (fails to appear at court) and the bond is forfeited. Other reasons may include breach of contract or the defendant posing a flight risk. The arrests are usually made by the agent or a person the agent has hired and is acting under their authority on their behalf.
How long does it take to get out of jail?
The paperwork setting up the bond "usually" takes about a half hour (depending on the bail amount). Once the bond is posted (delivered to the jail), it could take anywhere from 15 minutes to 12 hours for the defendant to be released. For example, San Mateo County Jail takes 2-4 hours, but I have seen individuals released as soon as one hour. Santa Rita (Alameda County Jail) takes 4-12 hours, and Santa Clara County usually 2-4 hours. City jails like the Hayward facility are the quickest and usually release within 15-30 minutes.
If I miss court do I have to go back to jail?
NO! This is an important thing to know when out on bail. If the defendant FTAs (fails to appear), there is a bench warrant issued for their arrest and the bail bond is forfeited (the bail agent is notified). If the defendant contacts the bail agent before they are arrested by the police, the agent can reinstate the bond. This is a letter the agent provides the defendant reassuming liability. This is delivered by the defendant to the court clerk and a new court date is scheduled.
What is my responsibility as a co-signer?
When a person comes to a bail agent in order to get their friend or loved one out of custody, they, if qualified become the indemnator or co-signer. This person is vouching that the defendant is going to fill his contractual obligation (make his court appearances) with the bail bonds company. If the defendant fails to meet their obligations, the indemnator could be held financially liable. Indemnators are important because most of the people bail agents help are people they don't personally know. So its important that someone comes forward assuring the agent as to the credibility of the defendant.
If I have a warrant, do I have to be arrested before I can be bailed out?
NO! The bond can be posted at the police department the warrant was issued from. This is commonly known as a "walk through." If the defendant had not been booked in, the police department may take you into custody in order to be booked, after which you will be released. The amount of the warrant is usually the bail amount.
What is a bail hold?
A bail hold is something the court issues to prevent the defendant from being released on bail. Common holds are below.
Probation or Parole Hold: This means the person being arrested was on probation or parole for a prior offenses.
INS Hold: This is a hold placed on individuals whose United States citizenship is under question.
CDC Hold: This is a hold the department of corrections places.
1275 Hold: A hold usually placed on accused drug dealers, dealing in large amounts.
Please call us if you have any questions regarding these holds and how to get them removed.
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